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The Mirror Maze
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     Earlier in the year, a terrorist group claiming to be the militant arm of an Iraqi political sect had kidnaped the eight-year-old grandson of a wealthy Iranian while the boy was on vacation with his family in Italy. The Iranian was, in fact, an agent of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, who had been installed in country many years ago under a carefully prepared cover identity. Since then, he had been accepted socially into Iran's highest political and military circles, which had enabled him to send a flow of valuable information back to the Isrealis.
     The kidnapers demanded the release of a number of prisoners being held in Israeli custody, and when the Israelis stood firm, sent the severed end of a finger through the mail as an inducement, along with the grisly warning that the pieces would get larger. Mercifully, however, Mossad had pinpointed the hideout near the harbor at Palermo, in Sicily, where the boy was being held. Fearing hesitation and delay on the part of the local authorities, which would have made tragedy inevitable, the Israelis decided to take matters into their own hands and sent in one of their specialist units. The commandos landed silently at night from rubber boats, located and stormed the house, wiping out all six of the captors who were there at the time, and brought the boy out safely.
     But the Israelis were not satisfied. The six kidnapers killed at Palermo had been small fry, and further investigations, along with tip-offs from various unlikely sources that were united only in their disgust at the new turn that old grievances had taken, revealed that the mastermind responsible was one Wadal Zuvi, of indeterminate origins, long suspected of having been behind a long list of outrages. Zuvi, however, did his masterminding from a safe haven far removed from the action: his luxurious villa at West Palm Beach, a little to the north of Miami. And Zuvi took no chances. The house was heavily protected by alarms and security devices, and filled at all times with armed bodyguards, who also surrounded Zuvi wherever he went.
     The results of the early American primary elections and other indicators of public mood were beginning to point to a Constitutional victory in November, and with the changes in the international scene that this was likely to bring, the Israeli government had been loathe to risk anything that might sour relationships. Any thought of a covert Mossad operation on American soil was out of the question. Accordingly, a discreet approach was made to the Americans through channels used when official communication was precluded, and shortly afterward in Washington the word was quietly passed down to an unlisted office in the Pentagon underworld.
     A week later, a water-company truck appeared at the end of the street where Zuvi's villa was situated. In the course of the next few days, a hole appeared in the ground, some lengths of new pipe were stacked beside it, and after a while Zuvi's house guards paid it no further attention. But the two men in coveralls down the hole were less interested in water pipes than in the local telephone feeder cable, which, since this was an exclusive residential area, ran underground. Soon, Zuvi's phones started giving intermittent trouble. When one of the bodyguards called the phone company's number to report the fault, the voice that answered expressed apologies and promised that someone would be there that afternoon. A man bearing phone company credentials duly appeared, traced wiring around the house, performed tests, and replaced something in the phone in Zuvi's private office. He said that everything should be fine now, and went away again. The water company's work along the street finished on the same day too.
     The next morning, a caller asked to speak to Zuvi. "Who wants him?" the bodyguard who took the call demanded.
     "I'm afraid it's confidential."
     "What's it about?"
     "I wouldn't dare tell you."
     "I'll transfer you to his office."
     There was a pause, then a belligerent voice answered, "Yeah?"
     "Hello? Are you Wadal Zuvi?"
     "Yes I am. What of it? Who are you?"
     Zuvi lived long enough to tell the doctors that he heard a high-pitched whine just before the bomb exploded.
     The agent who had placed the device and transmitted th acoustic signal over the line to detonate it returned to Washington a few days later. Around the office and in its files he was referred to by the nom de guerre of Marco Polo, while his code name in the field was Obsidian. Had he been working covertly in another country, he would also have had a third name—the official cover by which he went about his day-to-day affairs. In fact, when off duty, he went by the easiest name of all to maintain, which came easily and naturally: his own. It was Dave Fenner.
     The Colonel—that was the only name that Fenner had ever known him by—stared distastefully down at the file on his desk. He was a lean, hollow-faced man with protruding eyes and a droopy, ragged mustache. Fenner had always pictured him as looking more at home in a uniform of the Civil War period instead of a tweed jacket, check shirt, and knitted tie. "Nasty business. It can't go any lower than snatching children and dragging them into it. . . . Well, at least let's be thankful that it's the last time he'll try it. Good mission, Polo."
     Which, from the Colonel, was the ultimate in dizzying heights of praise that one could reasonably expect to hear. "My pleasure," Fenner said. And meant it.
     The Colonel closed the file, pushed it aside, and reached for another underneath it, which he had been studying. "The communication that our other friends in Florida brought back from Lebanon contained something that looks as if it could be in your area too." He was referring to the Brodsteins. Having known Dave for years, they occasionally functioned as couriers for him on their trips abroad, particularly in situations where one end or the other wished the connection to remain unofficial. "It's from Mossad again. I'm beginning to think we should transfer you to them permanently. Let them pick up the paycheck."
     "What do they want this time?" Fenner asked. "And why the roundabout approach?"
     "I don't know exactly. But it seems that one of their infiltrators who's been operating inside PALP has stumbled on something unusual."
     Which meant that it had something to do with Syria. The People's Army for the Liberation of Palestine was one of the dozens of splinter groups that the guerilla movements such as PFLP and Fatah of twenty years earlier had spawned. It had its roots in the Saiqa movement, and obtained its backing primarily from the Syrian Baath Party, which meant it was Soviet driven.
     The Colonel went on, "The main thing he's been assigned to is getting some inside information on th airplane hijack that they're thought to be planning."
     Fenner looked askance. "Hijacks aren't our line. That's what the Delta Force guys are supposed to be for."
     "That's not the side that interests us. In addition, their agent has also made contact with a mysterious person that they refer to as Mustapha, who's being held by PALP. Mustapha claims to have urgent information concerning our—the American—space defense system, that he wants to send back to us." The Colonel glanced over the top of the document for a reaction.
     Fenner shrugged. "Why can't Mossad's agent relay it out?"
     "It's not so simple. Apparently Mustapha doesn't trust anyone. In fact, he doesn't even trust our own people—most of them, anyhow. According to the message we've got, the only organization he'll deal with is the Constitutional Party. Weird, but there it is."
     "Okay. . . ." Fenner nodded as he began to see where he fitted into the picture.
     "You have a reliable contact inside the Constitutional Party organization, whom you've known for years."
     "Mayfly," Fenner said, which was the department's code name for Eva.
     "Yes. . . . Now, in January, the future vice president will be visiting Egypt and Israel for political talks. It has also reached my ear that Mayfly will be going too, as a member of his party. Since you know Mayfly and Mayfly is close to the party leadership, it ought to be possible to use her as a channel to Mustapha, via Mossad. That's what I want you to organize. How long has it been since you were in touch with her?"
     "Quite a while. The last time I talked to her, she was wrapped up in election stuff."
     "Well, arrange a meeting with her to make sure she can do it, et cetera. Then I want you to get over to Jerusalem and do the groundwork with the Mossad people to have a specific plan worked out by the time Mayfly arrives. I've already cleared it with the chief there. You know the drill. Any questions?"
     "I'll get to it right away."
     "Well, what are you still sitting there for, Polo?"
     "I'm on my way, right now."
 
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